LITERATURE: Provinces of Night – NOT Overdo

I know I’ve been slow with this novel, but reading Gay is often like reading McCarthy, or poetry:

They laid aside their tools when all the sun there was was a fierce chromatic rose flaring behind the thunderhead and by the time they reached the roadbed night was seeping down out of the trees and nighthawks came slant out of the mauve dusk like flung stones. (p. 23)

It’s all beautifully put, and I particularly like "nighthawks came slant out of the mauve dusk…"  It’s a picture, it’s got color and movement.  The use of "slant" is particularly useful here to establish what we all would simply have called the overused "swoop."

But the next sentence is where once again I see a repetition that’s not needed (in my mind) for reinforcement:

When they reached the house full dark had fallen and the house was cold and dark and enigmatic like some house abandoned, like some house where no one lived at all.

The double use of "dark" is too obvious, and the "abandoned" is the same way of saying "where no one lived at all."  I think we’ve already gotten the image from previous reading that the two men who live here have a heavy sense of loss since the wife/mother has, well, abandoned them.  I love imagery in novels, but when I become too aware of it, when it seems to scream out rather than add another facet, it’s like someone trying to make a point by speaking the same thing louder rather than offering it in a clearer way.

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4 Responses to LITERATURE: Provinces of Night – NOT Overdo

  1. Eric says:

    I’m in agreement with you on that excerpt. Lord but does he sound like McCarthy. I’m going to order this book once I finish commenting, I think.

    “…like some house abandoned.” The poetic reversal that McCarthy often employs is wasted here. That, even more than the repetition, smacks of overwriting.

  2. susan says:

    Wow, I missed the reversal on “house abandoned,” but you’re right.

    I’d still say that Gay is a far, far better writer than many who are published these days.

  3. I found your blog through Google while researching a subject. Your writings are meaningless, uninspiring and amateurish. You make out to be intellectual but you do not have proper grounding or specialize on any specific subject. Why do the likes of you crowd the internet with meaningless blog. Your half baked education seemed to be your handicap, but it’s not expensive or too late for you to get yourself a decent education and familiarize yourself with whatever subjects you want to educate the rest of us on. Take my advice, before you star pretending to be an intellectual, know your subject before you start dishing out your silly blog. Right now, you I find your blog boring, irritating and meaningless. You know nothing about literature or writing and you are making a fool of yourself. Don’t give up your day job.

  4. susan says:

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